This Day (Lagos)

13 October 2012

Nigeria/Liberia: Nations Cup - How It All Started

Photo: Vanguard
Nigeria's Super Eagles celebrating a goal against Liberia.

Nigeria then known as Red Devils first participated in the African Cup of Nations in 1963 but did not go beyond the first round after losing 4-0 to Sudan and 6-3 to Egypt and did not qualify for the competition again until 1976, when it won bronze in Ethiopia.

But Nigeria have since won the competition twice -in 1980 on home soil and 1994 in Tunisia after which the fortune of the team has dwindled.

In the last 10 years the Super Eagles have not really given Nigerian football fans much to cheer about. Its best was losing to Cameroon in the final of the 2000 edition at home when the competition was jointly hosted by Nigeria and Ghana and in Mali under the tutelage of Shaibu Amodu the Eagles won the bronze medal.

At the 2004 edition in Tunisia under Coach Christian Chukwu Nigeria won another bronze, with the only shining light being the team's shattering of the dominance of the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon by defeating them 2-1 in the quarter finals. Little wonder the medal was tagged 'golden bronze.'

As if the country is in love with bronze, it was another third position at the 2006 edition despite all the promises made by Coach Austin Eguavoen that the Eagles will make-up with a Nations Cup victory for their failure to qualify for the World Cup, while in 2008 the Super Eagles lost in the quarter finals to host country Ghana by 2-1 and in the 2010 competition Nigeria returned to its 'favourite' number three position after bowing to the Pharaohs 3-1 in the semi-final.

While Nigerians are yet to fathom the reason why the national team is yet to win a Nations Cup for the country after last winning it in 1994, disaster struck as the Super Eagles failed to qualify for the 2012 edition co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

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